More and more tourists around the world are opting for cruise liner holidays, particularly wanting to take cruises in Europe, the Caribbean and Alaska. The demand for cruise vacations in China has reached an all time high, with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd saying that around half a million Chinese passengers opt for its cruises annually.
However, this global boom in cruise holidays comes at a cost. The emissions from the global shipping sector are already quite high and now the cruise industry, like the rest of the shipping sector, is under pressure to meet tough new dirty fuel rules next year.
Almost 90% of cruise ships are opting to use exhaust cleaning systems, known as scrubbers, rather than buying cleaner fuel to meet the IMO regulations.
The controversial system has divided the industry. It uses seawater to “wash” dirty fuel before sending the washwater back into the ocean – or in the case of more expensive closed-loop systems, containing the washwater and disposing of it on land at regulated sites.
Many in the shipping sector believe this moves the pollution threat from the air to the ocean – and could be particularly damaging when “washed” fuel is released in congested waters like those used by many cruise ships.